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It's going to take 6 decades for women to get equal pay ― Here's how to fight back

Kat Cole, Alexandra Carter and Denise Hamilton join “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski to discuss how the coronavirus has impacted the female workforce and what can be done to narrow the gender pay gap.
Real estate agent Aracelis Bonet, 50, home schools her son Adam Martinez, 14, who is affected by severe autism, in their Orlando, Fla., home on Oct. 1, 2020. As the pandemic rages in the U.S., Bonet has had to make a choice between her job and caring for her autistic son. She decided to largely put her job on hold as a real estate agent, working at most 15 hours a week, resulting in a big drop in income.Gianrigo Marletta / AFP - Getty Images

More than 2.3 million women have left the workforce since the Covid-19 pandemic hit last March. And as a result, the female unemployment rate has increased more than 2.9 percent more than the men’s unemployment rate over the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This comes as President Biden called the gender disparity a national emergency and the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report for 2021 estimated it will take almost 62 years for women to reach economic parity with men.

On Monday, “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski was joined by CEO and co-founder of WatchHerWork, Denise Hamilton, former Focus Brands COO Kat Cole and Columbia Law professor Alexandra Cater to discuss the ways women can re-enter the workforce with confidence.

“I completely agree [with President Biden] that this is a national emergency,” said Carter, who is also a negotiation expert. “So often when we approach a negotiation from a place like this, our tendency is to apologize. Do not apologize for your break. Millions of women had to leave the workforce last year for reasons completely beyond their control. Instead, tell [a prospective employer] what you have been doing and how that’s an advantage for the company.”

Carter added that women must be their own best self-advocates. For example, she suggested that if a mother has been juggling homeschool schedules and consulting part-time, that skill translates to a competency with multi-tasking under pressure.

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Hamilton warned against a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing the deepening gap. “Those that are hardest hit are going to be the ones that take the longest to come out of this recession,” she said. “The truth of the matter is that disproportionately has impacted Black and brown women.”

For women struggling to simply get their careers back on track, Cole agreed with Hamilton on targeting the intersectional needs of a diversity of women. “Putting the effort on training frontline managers who can do a phenomenal job of attracting, retaining and developing women from within – that is a secret sauce to hack some of these policies actually having an impact on women at the front line level.”